March 28, 2004

Off With Their Heads!

Professor Reynolds characterizes this as a lack of accountability:

Senior BBC staff are threatening to take some flagship programmes off the air rather than face criticisms from an internal inquiry launched in the aftermath of Hutton.

A remarkable series of internal battles, which has pitched some of Britain's most senior broadcasting figures against one another, has led to the threats. The inquiry, chaired by the BBC's director of policy, Caroline Thomson, has been described as a 'kangaroo court'.

Executives and presenters complained that the inquiry went against natural justice, was trying to find scapegoats for the Hutton debacle and had poisoned relations. The strength of feeling among senior BBC figures comes at a difficult time for Acting Director-General Mark Byford, who has been attacked for agreeing to the inquiry.

Byford hopes to become the next Director-General to succeed Greg Dyke, who resigned after Hutton. But staff said he could be presiding over 'mass walkouts' if individuals are attacked by the inquiry.

Stars such as political editor Andrew Marr, Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, and Today's John Humphrys and Jim Naughtie have all raised concerns at the process that has been likened to 'the BBC's own Guantanamo'.

While Professor Reynolds is correct, we should do as our betters instruct and look for the root causes of the problem, rather than just it's symptoms. It would seem to me that the BBC, or more correctly, some at the BBC now regard themselves as some version of an absolute monarchy, ruling the realm of the airwaves through their royal will, placing themselves above us commoners and merchants, chafing at any challenge to their divine right to pontificate, extracting taxes from the populace to support their palaces and wars, issuing rhetorical bills of attainder for their political enemies, and expecting everyone to admire and celebrate the pomp and circumstance of their court. How dare these rustics presume to pronounce judgment on their betters, without so much as a "by your leave?" One can easily imagine the response to this challenge to their authority by Mr. Paxman, Mr. Marr, and Mr. Humphrys echoing Charles I, "I lyke this not."

I am unsure whether the United Kingdom and the BBC are headed for a showdown that was closer to that of King John and the nobles that produced the Magna Carta (which accomplished much less than commonly believed, but set a powerful precedent), or for a cataclysmic overthrow of the self-professed monarchy more akin to the execution of Charles I by Parliament. My money would be on the latter day Oliver Cromwells with the blogospere acting as the New Model Army. Of course, if this historical analogy carries on much further the leaders of the revolution should all expect to be gibbeted after the restoration.

Posted by Charles Austin at March 28, 2004 10:19 AM